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Relationships (107 posts)
Bill Simmons, possibly the most thoughtful sports fan there is, wrote an essay on crying about sports for the site Grantland called "The Consequences of Caring." He writes about the first time his daughter, a Kings fan, cried over sports: "I remained sympathetic while being secretly delighted, like she had passed some sort of 'Fledgling Sports Fan' hurdle or something." This is an essay about caring really an extra lot about sports. (Simmons writes, "Of the 75 greatest moments of my life, sports were involved in at least 20 of them") But it's also an essay about a father and a daughter, and about really caring about something, and about caring about what the people you care for care about. (Got that?)
Simmons wants to share his love of sports with his daughter because it's such a big part of his life. He doesn't even care if she latches onto a rival team, because after all, "Sports is a metaphor for life. Everything is black and white on the surface. You win, you lose, you laugh, you cry, you cheer, you boo, and most of all, you care." He just wants her to care, like he does. And when he realizes that she cares deeply enough to cry, he knows that on this level they understand each other.
Whether you and your father root for the same team or for mortal rivals, how nice, how lucky, if you can share an interest, whether it's sports or politics or rococo frescos. Everyone should have something they care about enough to cry over. And having someone who understands that beloved something can be one of the greatest gifts there is.
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But what happens to these dog-babies when the young couples don't marry and have actual-babies? What happens when the couples break up? Marisa Meltzer and her boyfriend found themselves in this predicament when they split up, and decided to share custody of their dog, Chauncey. Meltzer writes for GOOD about how at first it worked out perfectly -- they lived across the street from one another and shared the dog. The dog was well-cared-for and happy, and Meltzer could sneakily keep tabs on her ex. Then her ex-boyfriend moved in with his new girlfriend, across town. Meltzer writes, "Only when Kevin stopped turning up in my apartment each afternoon was I able to understand that putting someone else’s needs first—the dog’s—required me to more closely monitor my own needs, too." Sharing the dog kept the two linked, which as anyone who's ever had an ex knows is part-nice and part-exhausting. But in the end, it was the dog's needs that allowed Meltzer to move on. She couldn't moon over her ex's new life. After all, she had a dog to take care of.
What a lucky dog-baby, first of all, to have people who love him so much. And also: how lucky we pet-owners are, to have these sweet animals around, teaching us lessons in forgiveness and moving on, helping us to practice varying emotional states, and being gracious enough, even after they've gone from being dog-babies to just plain dogs, to snuggle our feet on chilly evenings.
Loving Our Pets
Men! What are they thinking? We can't always answer that, but we'll be posting our favorite glimpses into their world in this space every Thursday.
* Because no matter how much you love high fashion, it never hurts to lighten up, here is Seth Meyers' cheeky CFDA awards ceremony speech, including at least three laugh-out-loud jokes. (NYMag)
* Ever wondered what it would be like to live your life in silence? Read this fascinating email conversation with four Trappist monks. (The Awl)
* Philip Levine ends his tenure as poet laureate of the United States this week, but we think he's got a future resolving thorny dilemmas. "You need to see a shaman who can change who you are, and your wife needs to see a lawyer," he writes to a man who believes his wife ought to pay the bill for the cell phone he used to conduct an emotional affair. It only gets better from there. (NYTimes)
It's not often that my husband rides the Super Sweet Viral Video train, but the other morning he beckoned me to the computer, his eyes welling up, to watch this: The World's First Live Lip Dub Proposal. Watch the reactions of the (spoiler!) bride-to-be, and remember what you forgot you'd forgotten about the ecstasy of new love, the excitement of new marriage, and the awesomeness of the lip dub meme.
In her thoughtful essay "The Lonely Ones," Emily Cooke writes about three female writers who recorded their battles with aloneness -- having it, enjoying it, using it, escaping it. As Cooke puts it, "A man who chooses to be alone assumes the glamour of his forebears. A woman’s aloneness makes us suspicious: Even today it carries connotations of reluctance and abandonment, on the one hand, and selfishness and disobedience, on the other." Reading this I had a flashback to banging on the door of my mother's art studio in the back of our house, saying, "But I just can't leave her alone for a minute, I just CAN'T!" Artists deserve time to themselves, of course. But mothers? No way!
Still, as Cooke points out, it's important for a creative person, for any person, to have some time alone. "Being alone lets you develop, become strange, be mad. If to be with people is to be socialized, to submit your rough edges to the whetstone of others’ desires, to be asocial is to be ragged and, thus, original." Maybe this is why our culture at large is so suspicious of women who want to be alone for a few hours or days or years at a time. We need women around, society seems to say, so it scares us when you say you need time alone. And I have to say, I get it, from society's point of view. Have you ever seen a little boy and a little girl playing together? It's basically a pantomime of the battle between wildness and civilization, personified. We need the females of the species to hang around and civilize everyone.
I see her IRL sometimes and she's always wearing something adorable and carrying an armful of peonies and demurring, "Oh no, you're just seeing my online persona." Then she offers a twinkling smile and excuses herself because she's always on her way to a Special Yoga Class in the Park for Perfect Ladies or something like that. Total girl crush.
The girl crush, despite what its name suggests, is no small matter. As Thessaly la Force writes in W Magazine, "The 'girl crush' may sound silly, but sometimes it takes something unserious to get us talking about a serious subject: the ambitions of young creative women and the need for worthy role models." The girl crush is that woman who seems to have the perfect life. She's someone you want to befriend, if possible, but even more than that, she's someone you want to study, the way all little girls intensely study slightly older girls. La Force writes about her own girl crush, an illustrator and author of whom she writes, "I adored her from afar, and I suppose a part of me wanted to be her."
In the W Magazine piece, la Force enumerates her nominees for inaugural members of the Girl Crush Hall of Fame: "Zadie Smith, with her daring, brilliance, and wild success; Joan Didion, with her cool, spare prose; Patti Smith, with her soul and wisdom; Sofia Coppola, with her chic grace and unmistakable taste; and Tina Fey, with her goofy smile and razor wit. Each of them has accomplished something the rest of us dream of doing. And because they’ve done it, we feel we can too." That's what makes the girl crush more than just a regular old friend crush. The girl crush is the mentor (whether she knows it or not), the role model. She's the template for how to do the things you want to do; she's proof that it can be done.
For more girl-crush fun, check out Thessaly La Force's effervescent blog-zine, Girl Crush.
Poet Maya Stein has got this birthday on lockdown. Look at her plan: she's going to spend 40 days biking to 40 destinations, with her turquoise typewriter in tow. At every location she will stop and set up a typewriting station and invite people to contribute to a collaborative work of writing. Her goal, as she explains on her Kickstarter site, is "to bring people together through the written word, and to do so in a way that's collaborative yet personal, free-form yet structured." She goes on to explain that "by taking the time to do this all by bicycle, I want to encourage people to nurture the art -- and vital importance! -- of slowing down to engage more deeply with our physical environments, to connect to the movement and power of our bodies, and to connect with others through our words."
Now if that doesn't beat the pants off of drinking too much and getting teary over the List Of Things I Was Supposed To Do By Age 40, I don't know what does. What noble goals for all of us -- to make a milestone goal a crazy and dreamy one, to connect with others, to connect with our physical and creative selves. Preferably with a really cute bicycle and typewriter.
Check out Maya Stein's Kickstarter site to watch a video explaining the project and, if you want, to donate some money (and, awesomely, get the bike named after you).
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The answer: her sister. Delle Donne is extremely close with her older sister, who is blind, deaf, and has cerebral palsy. As Delle Donne explained to ABC News, "Skype, cellphone, texting, email — doesn’t work with Liz. We’ve never spoken a word to one another so the only thing we have is our physical contact. So that’s our whole relationship. It’s everything. She knows me by my smell and my feel, so, physically, physical contact is the only thing she knows. So when I did leave, I lost Lizzie basically. Well, she lost me and I wasn’t OK with that when I left.” Delle Donne then took a break from basketball for her first year of college because she was feeling burnt out and wanted to recapture the joy of the game (yet another reason to love her).
And now that Delle Donne is back in the game, leading her team to unprecedented victories, she has her sister to thank. As Delle Donne put it, “She teaches me that you just fight no matter what." (You have to watch the ABC video for the hug between Elena and Lizzy.) And that teaches us all a little something about the power of sisterly love.
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These days, not so much. I've become an expert ignorer of anyone who seems like they might need something -- strangers, oddballs, children. But Art Decker's post "Getting To Know Yourself By Looking Outward" on IlluminatedMind.net has me rethinking my "never-make-eye-contact" policy. He writes of our national obsession with getting to know ourselves through introspection, and suggests that "perhaps some of the time we spend reflecting could be put to better use living and engaging." I was really hoping he'd say that to know ourselves better we should wear pajamas and read in bed all day, but fine, whatever.
He writes that after a chance encounter left him feeling energized and inspired, he "vowed to meet a stranger every day." The post describes some of his amazing encounters with people he would have never spoken with had he not taken on his "beautiful experiment." (Read the whole post for the scalp-tingling conversation he had with his pharmacy cashier.) After a few months of talking to strangers, Decker writes, "Without a textbook, without a plane ticket, without really much effort at all, I’ve gained more insight and traveled further than ever before. And, I’ve also gotten to know someone I never knew that well before — myself."
If reaching out to a fellow human every day can do anything to deepen our self-knowledge (or really, even if it can't), isn't it worth a shot?
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The blogger behind Purposefully Untitled knows what I'm talking about. As she wrote, "The nicest thing that anyone ever did for me...was to fill my refrigerator full of Diet Coke. Yes, it was that simple." She explains that she'd been working around the clock, and had run out of her beloved Diet Coke. Then one day she came home and found a fridge full of those silvery treasures, cans of Coke, and she reports that she was so touched, she cried.
Now, this lady obviously enjoys her soda, but that's not what made her cry. As she puts it, "That person knew me. That person knew how to love me."